People sometimes ask me why I wrote The Gospel in Ten Words. I tell them it was like having an unplanned baby. I never meant to write that book. It just sort of happened.
I actually set out to write a different book but I got distracted by a question: Who are you in Christ? Most Christians don’t know. “Who am I? Well, um, I’m a Christian, and, um…”
The number one problem facing the church is an identity crisis. We don’t know who we are. In the absence of a clear identity we define ourselves by what we do. “I pastor people so I guess I’m a pastor. Call me pastor.” Or, “I sin a lot so I must be a backslider.” But you are more than what you do.
I wrote The Gospel in Ten Words so that you might know who you truly are. You are your Father’s dearly beloved child. In union with Christ you are holy, righteous, accepted, royal, and many other wonderful things.
The Gospel in Ten Words was released a year ago this week. In the past 12 months I have been blessed to hear from readers who have been set free by the message in this book. To everyone who’s taken the time to write or post a review, thank you! (Check out what readers have said here.)
To celebrate the first birthday of this unplanned baby, I thought you might enjoy some of the best bits from The Gospel in Ten Words…
1. The gospel is the glad and merry news that God is good, he loves you, and he will happily give up everything he has so he can have you. Contrary to popular belief, God is not mad at you. He is not even in a bad mood. The good news declares that God is happy, he is for you, and he wants to share his life with you forever.
2. Learning to walk in the love of God means learning to walk in his grace. It’s following Jesus instead of Job. It’s no longer trying to impress God with your sacrifices and but being impressed with his. God will never make you jump through hoops to earn his love. He won’t love you any more if you succeed and he won’t love you any less if you fail. If you lead millions to Christ or none at all, he will love you just the same. God loved you while you were dead in sin and he didn’t stop loving you when you got saved. His love endures forever.
3. Your baptism into Christ’s death is just about the most important thing that ever happened to you, yet many Christians are ignorant of it. Ask them about their past and you will hear all the bad things that happened to them and all the dumb choices they made. Although their intent is to glorify Christ, the reality is they are living in the shadow of someone else’s past. Their present is haunted by the ghost of who they used to be. Just once I would like to hear a testimony like the apostle Paul’s: “I was born, I did some stuff, then I died. I was crucified with Christ, and the person I used to be no longer lives.”
4. We are constantly being told, “You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough, tall enough, rich enough, or cool enough. Your teeth aren’t white enough or straight enough. Your skin is the wrong color, your body is the wrong shape, and you smell bad.” Listen to this twaddle and you’ll end up a miserable wreck. You’ll make yourself susceptible to the seductive lies of advertisers and snake oil salesmen. If you want a proper estimation of your true worth, don’t look at your academic transcripts or your resume. Look to the cross. Jesus loves you more than his own life. That’s the message of the gospel and it’s the cure for mother wounds, low self-esteem, and all forms of rejection.
5. The market for acceptance and affirmation is a slave market. It perpetuates a system of human sacrifice based on envy and selfish ambition. It dehumanizes all who trade in it and fosters a distorted image of our heavenly Father as a loveless, scorekeeping judge. To end this unholy trade it is essential that we preach the gospel of acceptance, and here it is: The love of the Lord is not for sale. Like everything with grace, his acceptance and approval is a free gift that comes to us through Christ alone.
6. The church has an unhealthy obsession with sin. We spend our lives watching out for sin, resisting sin, fighting sin, hiding sin, running from sin, owning up to sin, talking about sin, turning from sin, and hopefully, overcoming sin. With so much emphasis on sin, guilt, and shame, is it any wonder so many of us don’t feel righteous? We need the Holy Spirit’s conviction of righteousness now more than ever.
7. The ministry of reconciliation is not telling people that a huffy God waits for them to sooth his offended ego with a bunch of repentance flowers and a box of confession chocolates. It is the thrill of proclaiming the glad, happy news that God loves them, his face is turned towards them, and he holds nothing against them.
8. It is ridiculous to think you can pay God to forgive you. Yet many sincere believers are examining their hearts for unconfessed sins because they think God is a sin collector who trades favors for sin. Hear that slapping sound? That’s the sound of a hundred-million angels doing facepalms!
9. You may be worried that you will disappoint God. It’s not going to happen. It is literally impossible to disappoint an all-knowing God… When you stumble he responds with unaffected grace: “I knew you were going to do that, but don’t worry, I still love you.” Jesus knew ahead of time that Peter was going to deny him and yet Jesus didn’t reject Peter. Instead he loved him and prayed for him. Jesus knew ahead of time that Judas would betray him and yet Jesus didn’t reject Judas. In the very act of betrayal Jesus called him “friend” signaling that even in that dark moment the door of acceptance remained wide open. We don’t deserve any of this. We have done nothing to merit his favor. If anything, we have done plenty to warrant his displeasure. Yet Jesus reaches out to a sinful world and says, “Open the door and invite me in for dinner.” Jesus’ acceptance is mind-boggling. It’s like nothing on earth.
10. The gospel is simple enough for a child to understand: God loves you. Period. That’s it. Bow your heads and musicians to the front because I am done preaching. I’m serious—it really is that simple. God loves you. We will spend eternity unpacking those three little words and exploring the immeasurable reaches of his love. This is what we were born for.
Source: The Gospel in Ten Words